From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 11 – The complications that arise when we tell the truth, and a look at some exceptional situations where we could lie
Let’s look now at a similar situation where another person chose to handle it very differently from Rahab. Yet, God still honoured her for it, and came to her aid. It involves Betsy Ten Boom, the sister of Corrie Ten Boom, of the famous Dutch family. They risked their lives to shelter Jewish refugees in their home and to help them to escape from the Nazis. So, we have a roughly similar situation. God’s people, the Jews, were in danger and needed to be hidden and protected.
However Betsy Ten Boom was a remarkable person. She was extraordinarily sincere and had decided, years before, that she would never tell a lie. It became for her an unbreakable principle. One day some German soldiers came unexpectedly to the door and burst in to the house to search it, looking for Jews. There was a family of Jews hiding in a chamber under the floor. They had gone down through a trap door hidden under the table.
A German soldier asked “Are there any Jews hidden in this house?” Betsy Ten Boom had no time to think, or even to pray, about what to do. So, she just acted on instinct, in accordance with the ingrained habits she had built up over many years. She blurted out “Yes, they are hiding underneath the table”. I don’t think God wanted Betsy to say that. She didn’t need to say it. She had no duty to say it.
The Germans had no right even to be there, let alone to ask that question. Moreover, their purpose in asking it was abominable. They were seeking to kill God’s people, the Jews, which is the very reason why the Ten Boom family were hiding them. So, Betsy’s family were horrified at what she had just said.
However, God’s heart was evidently touched by Betsy’s sincerity. So He honoured it, and her, and intervened. God must have planted a thought into the German soldier’s mind, because he immediately got the wrong end of the stick. He assumed Betsy was making fun of him and that she couldn’t possibly have meant what she had just said. He mistakenly took it as sarcasm, which is the exact opposite of what it actually was. He therefore became red-faced. He felt that if he looked under the table everybody would laugh at him. So, he turned and left the room. The Germans then searched the whole of the rest of the house, i.e. everywhere except under the table, but they found nothing.
It all ended happily. That group of Jews who had been under the table all survived the war. God preserved all their lives. In part, I expect He did so in honour of what Betsy had just done, due to the strength and sincerity of her conviction. God covered up for Betsy and saved her, and the Jews, from the consequences of her own honesty.
However, we must face the fact that He will not always do so. As we have seen, there is often a heavy price to pay for being truthful. But He did intervene on that occasion. Thus we have two very similar situations handled in totally opposite ways by two women, Rahab and Betsy Ten Boom. Yet God honoured both of them.